Autumn reads, part 3

  • by Jim Piechota
  • Tuesday September 12, 2023
Share this Post:
Autumn reads, part 3

With the third and final installment of our fall 2023 books roundup, while we couldn't capture all the amazing queer books publishing this season, here are even more of the novels, memoirs, and picture book titles you will certainly want to seek out in the coming months.

"Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror" Edited by Jordan Peele, $30 (Random House) October
From the Oscar and Emmy-winning creative mind that brought us such brilliant films as "Get Out," "Us," and "Nope" comes a Halloween anthology of Black horror short stories certain to chill your spine. Though not a queer collection per se, several contributors are known for incorporating queer and trans characters into their books, like award-winning sci-fi writer Cadwell Turnbull ("No Gods, No Monsters," "We Are the Crisis") and Tananarive Due ("The Good House," "The Reformatory"), a Black horror writer since the 1990s.

There are nineteen established and a few newer authors included and among the plots explored are a vigilante daughter searching for the demon who killed her parents, a bus ride through Alabama with an unfortunate drop off point, and N.K. Jemisin's contribution "Reckless Eyeballing," which details what happens when a mid-thirties Black female driving a Tesla is pulled over, told from the harrowing perspective of Carl, a cop hungry to "find something."

Things are never quite as they seem in this Jordan Peele-curated world of horror. This one is required reading late at night after you light your pumpkin.

"Make the Dark Night Shine" by Alan Lessik, $19.95 (Rebel Satori Press) October
Berlin-based former San Fransiscan queer author Lessik's ambitious follow-up to his debut ("The Troubleseeker") is set in post-war Paris and follows the exploits of gay couple Kenzo and Mitsu, who arrive in Constantinople in the early twentieth century to open a Japanese Consulate. Soon, they meet a gritty Ukrainian woman named Elisa in a nightclub, and she becomes Kenzo's "beard" to shield his homosexual relationship from scrutiny.

Epic in scope and wildly imaginative, the novel expands outward to include themes of Buddhist monasticism and spirituality, gay liberation, and a family reunion with Kenzo's own child that takes him across treacherous terrain and critical cultures to America where he may finally achieve peace for himself and his chosen family. Or will he?
Inspired by his own family's history, this is a wonderful dramatic new work from Lessik.

"F*ck It, I'm Buying a Cabin" by Jesse Regis, Illus. by Stephanie Sosa, $12.99 (Row House) September
This colorfully illustrated, entertaining, poetically rhythmic graphic novel chronicles the life of Sarah, a hopeful young lesbian with hopes of becoming a teacher, or a detective, or a scholar. But debt and the stresses of shared-apartment life and a dead-end tech job eventually take their toll and overwhelm her.

She begins relishing the bliss of solitude in a country cabin all her own. From her disillusionment emerges the liberation of country life, clean air, and co-existing within the beauty of nature. Embellished by the artistic talents of Sosa, Regis has written a simple yet memorable story-in-verse awash in the illustrator's sepia tones and effective line drawings. This impressive story sends a message that the stresses of city life don't have to last forever.

"Blackward" by Lawrence Lindell, $22.95 (Drawn & Quarterly) September
Cartoonist Lawrence Lindell's wonderful, culturally significant graphic fiction showcases four Black queer outcasts who search for belonging. Meeting resistance at every turn, the quartet (Amor, Tony, Lika, and Lala) struggle to create a safe space to fully embrace and embody their collective weirdness. Lika's genius idea to create "The Section for All Black folks" and its newest Zine Fest event are again facing ire from detractors, but the fight is as real as their unified response.

The title is a combination word signifying two human qualities (Black and Awkward) that are heavily criticized, scorned, and readily debased by others. Lindell's animated brilliance puts the frolic and fight back into this unapologetically weird, queer demographic while recognizing Blackness for all its uniqueness and uncompromised beauty.

"Dragtails" by Greg Bailey and Alice Wood, $15.99 (White Lion) September
Readers who imbibe cocktails on the regular (particularly while watching "RuPaul's Drag Race") will find Bailey and Wood's fabulous cocktail collection from a collective of drag stars and divas. Raja Gemini provides the vivid introduction followed by a parade of well-known queens offering up their favorite elixirs.

Jinkx Monsoon's Vaudevillian combines ginger beer, bitters, and dark rum into an intoxicating brew from this beloved Pagan witch; Delta Work, "the queen of autumn and winter" offers up a Halloween-inspired pumpkin spice, bourbon, and coffee concoction; The Boulet Brothers follow suit with their Blood Sacrifice drink made with cranberry juice and crème de cassis; Coco Peru offers up an intoxicating Tension Tamer made with gin, tequila, lemon vodka, rum, and triple sec; and, of course, a sludgy, brown Baltimore Mud Pie cocktail inspired by the one and only Divine. Artistically illustrated and creatively produced, this coffee table book is entertaining, practical, and a spicy fan-favorite conversation starter.

"Sacred Spells: Collected Works by Assotto Saint" $19.95 (Nightboat)
Haitian-born multifaceted artist Saint's (1957-1994) creative life is on vibrant display in this anthology of his fiction, poetry, literary essays, song lyrics, and plays. Born Yves Francois Lubin, he lived in New York City with his partner until his death from AIDS years later. His fiery politically-laced poetry leaps off the page alongside short stories about young men contending with the fallout of the AIDS crisis. There are photographs of Saint in many incarnations throughout the book, which, for fans, will be a haunting reminder of his presence and impact within the artistic community.

This essential retrospective pays tribute to how Saint delivered the essence of Black queer life to his reading audiences through the trailblazing artistic prose of a master literary craftsman. Readers and collectors of LGBTQ history will savor this collection.

"My Name is Barbra" by Barbra Streisand, $47 (Viking) November
One of our favorite and imminently iconic EGOT winners brings forth this whopping 1000-page door-stopper on her six-decade performance life. Also included are insider details and stories from childhood in Brooklyn, struggles to become an actress, her breakout hits in music, movies, and theatrical direction, her political advocacy, her whirlwind love life, and, literally, everything in between. This is pure unadulterated Barbra, in her own words this time. Save your pennies for this autobiography of the year.

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.